The Ultimate Guide to Northampton Coffee Shops

Northampton, located in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, about a two-hour drive from Boston, has the most coffee shops per capita of any Massachusetts city? it certainly seems so. for a city of just under 30,000 people, there are roughly…a lot. Park in the main garage and you’ll be greeted by a sign reading ‘Welcome to Northampton: Where the coffee is strong and the women are too’.

With a city center the size of a Cambridge or Somerville square, there’s an embarrassment of great cups of coffee and places to enjoy it (or grab it to go). Given Northampton’s culture and aesthetic, chances are that wherever you turn, there may be exposed brick and fair trade beans.

Reading: Coffee shops in northampton

why? Maybe it’s the fact that Northampton is one of the major cities within the “Five Universities” area, referring to Umass, Amherst, Smith, Mt. holyoke and hampshire, which means many students, faculty and staff need caffeine. maybe it’s the area’s progressive politics, in keeping with the coffee shops’ long history as places of social encouragement. or maybe it’s just that the people here in the “paradise city” inside the “happy valley” (true stuff) just know how to live.

coffee takes many forms here, from restaurants that serve coffee to coffee roasters to bakeries with a well-maintained urn or two, but this guide focuses on establishments that exist primarily to serve coffee (with a few honorable mentions in the other categories at the end). all run the gamut from espresso to drip, with some going into specialty drinks and others offering full menus for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

even if you’re not in the big city, it’s doubtful that any waiter would be surprised if you order, say, a cold drink with oat milk, but if you’re really picky about your order, you might want to check the menu first.

and you know about the pandemic drill – it’s best to call ahead to check hours and confirm in-person service is taking place.

the chicken coop

1 market street, northampton

the roost has a cozy yet industrial vibe, with houseplants and recycled and reclaimed materials like classroom furniture and wine bottle lamps. The fun and cozy space was designed in collaboration with the furniture store and workshop next door, sticks and bricks. Ithaca, New York-based Gimme Coffee creates a medium roast house-brew for the roost, Buzz Al-Drip, which combines 70% Brazilian Cerrado with 30% Batavia Blue Java beans. it’s also used for cold beer from the chicken coop, and espresso is a blend of Guatemalan and Peruvian beans.

the roost has a beer and wine license and works just as well as a late-night pub as it does a place for morning coffee and a breakfast sandwich. the dessert box is a spectacle in itself, with towering coconut, carrot and chocolate cakes.

the roost is about to undergo a major renovation, with a “brand new facility,” says owner robyn wynn. The new design will redesign the corner closest to the Market and Bridge Street with accordion glass windows and doors that will open in fine weather for what Wynn calls a “European-style outdoor cafe” function.

Also Served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Wine, Beer, Baked Goods, Smoothies.

hay market cafe

185 main street, northampton

See also: Best French Press Travel Mug For On-The-Go Brews

Open since 1991, Haymarket is one of the oldest cafés in the city. the all-vegetarian establishment is a cafeteria upstairs and a full restaurant downstairs. Named for the Chicago Plaza that was the site of a major episode in labor history, Haymarket pays a living wage for all employees and therefore does not accept tips. there is also something called a pool account, which accepts donations to cover the cost of a sliding scale menu for those who need financial assistance. (200 to 800 of these meals are served each month, according to the haymarket website.) The original owner, Peter Simpson, roasts all the coffee himself in an “old school” Sivetz fluid bed roaster, and the house blend is a combination of Ethiopian and Guatemalan. Beans. plus, the slightly well-done croissants may be the best in town.

also served: breakfast, lunch, dinner, smoothies, juice “cocktails.”

shelburne falls coffee roasters

273 main street, northampton

There are two Shelburne Falls coffee roasters in Northampton alone, one right downtown and one on the less scenic but more traveler-friendly King Street (and even more so in several nearby cities). a different regional organic coffee is served each day of the week (Sumatra on Mondays, Mexican on Saturdays, etc.), as well as a rotating series of daily flavored coffees, both regular and decaf. All coffee from all locations is roasted at the company’s facility in the namesake town of Shelburne. if you like coffee with flavors like chocolate raspberry, this may be the place for you.

also served: breakfast, lunch, baked goods.

See also: CAFE DÀNH CHO 2 NGƯỜI Ở ĐÀ NẴNG

catalpa coffee

269 Pleasant Street, Northampton

catalpa sits in a small, uncluttered space with a bright, leaf-print wall design in what was once northampton coffee. both dark and light roasts are served in the morning, with the medium coming online in the afternoon. the atmosphere and volume tend towards calm and tranquility. The coffee shop is owned by the same family as Shelburne Falls coffee roasters, and the coffee is roasted in Shelburne, although it is a separate entity. There’s another catalpa in nearby greenfield, and the baked goods come from the Pie Baking Co., also in northampton, which is considered a sister establishment. It’s not something you see on every menu: an espresso tonic.

also served: breakfast sandwiches, baked goods.

balagan coffee

241 main street, northampton

A large black-and-white sign out front reads “coffee” in huge letters, and is enlivened by a hanging orange plastic fruit basket. the black and white theme continues within the interesting long space that was previously the green bean. Cafe Balagan opened in the midst of the pandemic and serves Intellectual Coffee (based in Chicago), available in House Blend and El Diablo Dark Roast. espresso drinks are the main focus, like the carmelita or the flat white. if you’re looking for something other than caffeine, the cafe shares a wall with balagan cannabis, a dispensary run by the same owners, albeit a separate business.

also served: shakes, sandwiches, baked goods.

share coffee

150 main street, northampton

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no visit to northampton is complete without a trip to thornes, a sort of multi-story indoor mall made up entirely of independent shops, including shareable coffee. Thornes functions as the city’s geographic and thematic hub, and Share is smack in the middle of it (adjacent parking is ridiculously cheap, by Boston or any other standards, making it a good base for a day trip). Share Coffee Also has a location in Amherst, and all of its beans are roasted at shared coffee roasters in nearby Hadley. In addition to espresso drinks, Share serves a single-origin, light-roast drip coffee that tends to rotate on a weekly basis.

also served: breakfast, sandwiches, baked goods.

wooden star

60 masonic street b, northampton

A warm and inviting space flooded with natural light in what was once a firehouse, Woodstar is a robust one-stop cafe and full-scale bakery. This is a “multi-roaster” coffee shop, featuring Esselon coffee beans and coffee roasting at Hadley and Mocha Joe’s Roasting Company in Brattleboro, Vermont. Woodstar serves a rotating selection of single origin, medium roast coffee that can come from Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica or Honduras. “It’s always a strong cup of coffee and it’s always an ethically sourced cup of coffee,” says founder and co-owner Rebecca Robbins. With three separate rooms and outdoor seating, it’s often possible to find a section of Woodstar that tends more toward study or conversation. when it’s cold, some outdoor tables are equipped with gas fire pits.

Also Served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Smoothies, Baked Goods.

lenox bakery

48 main street northampton

lenox patisserie features a unique menu of french pastries, and makes for a pretty appetizing spread. these include viennoiseries (croissants, brioches), choux pastries, fruit tarts, specialty pastries, and various types of French macarons. The coffee is roasted across the Connecticut River at Esselon Coffee and Coffee Roasting (a coffee in its own right). esselon makes a dark french roast for drip coffee and a dark italian roast used in espresso. Lenox Patisserie owner Yulia Bougouin describes the coffee as chocolaty, saying, “I’m convinced that coffee doesn’t give you that acidic aftertaste that often accompanies medium roasts.” The bakery has two additional locations in the Berkshires; another in hudson, new york, closed in early 2022, citing staff shortages and other pandemic-related challenges.

also served: breakfast, lunch, dinner, baked goods.

family coffee & tea

6 strong ave., northampton

Locals rejoiced when this train carriage structure finally reopened after several years of being empty, having housed about half a dozen restaurants since the 1930s.

Perhaps the most “curated” look of any of Northampton’s coffee shops, Familiars exudes a clean, attractive design, including reclaimed wood paneling from a local paper mill. Here you’ll find light and medium roast drip coffee and serve-to-serve coffee, along with espresso and other specialty drinks. Familiars gets its beans from the counterculture, which is based in Durham, North Carolina. At this time the Valley of the Sanctuary is offered, of unique origin, Peruvian. the city will close a heavy avenue to auto traffic again this summer, allowing family members to expand their outdoor dining area. When the weather is nice, Familiars also has outdoor tables along Northampton’s idyllic rail trail system, making it easy to pedal over for a cuppa. (note: at the time of publication, indoor family seating remains closed due to the pandemic; outdoor seating and takeout are currently available.)

menu highlight, under “traditional macchiato”: “if you’re looking for a starbucks macchiato, order a vanilla latte instead.”

also served: breakfast, lunch, baked goods.

See also: CAFE DÀNH CHO 2 NGƯỜI Ở ĐÀ NẴNG

honorable mentions

  • rooster cafe: located just outside downtown at the headquarters of the servicenet mental health and human services agency, the cafe also operates as a vocational training program.
  • double tea: in case you don’t like coffee.
  • amanouz café: more like a restaurant but serves nous nous (Moroccan coffee).
  • cake bar: more like a bakery, but with solid coffee, in the center of Florence (a northampton town).
  • closed during the pandemic and hopefully reopening one day: iconic, yes (yes, the roastery is still in business, but their on-site cafeteria is closed currently).
  • possibly forthcoming: noho social.
bhh

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